In The Name Of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servants and Messenger.
Respected Brothers and Sisters! With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I see a lot of my brothers and sisters getting really prepared and excited to celebrate. I don’t understand why. Does any of you really know why you’re celebrating Valentines Day? Just like knowing why we celebrate Eid. There’s a very ugly truth behind this so called “Day of Love” that majority of Muslims have no clue about. When they are asked this questions, the usual response is “We are celebrating our love, and making our loved ones happy on this special occasion, it’s just something nice.”
First of all, if you’re married, you don’t need some Christian Saint’s birthday to celebrate your love and happiness, you have everyday of the year; then why Valentine’s Day? If you are trying to celebrate your happiness, give blessings to each other, thank Allah that you have the other person in your life, pray for him or her, teach each other something about Islam, appreciate each other and not just one day on the 14th, but EVERY DAY.
If you are not married, then you shouldn’t even be talking to girls/guys. Forget going as far as discussing WHY you shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Our religion is very clear and very straight forward, and no one has the right to question the teachings of Islam. Valentine’s Day is haram, no matter how much a person would like to sugar-coat or paint it, wallahi it will stay as Haram.
What is it AND where did it come from?
Consider Valentine’s Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States), has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries and areas. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine’s Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honour the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for “entertainment and pleasure” – until the next year’s lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with the blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the “sacred” thongs by these “holy men” was believed to make them better able to bear children.
As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably). Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did. The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine’s Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honour of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a “lovers’” saint, who had himself fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter.
Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, the French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austria, Hungry, and Germany also, the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong.
However in 1660, Charles II revived it. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine’s Day cards called – what else – valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth – when $5,000 was a lot of money – the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.
The history of Valentine’s Day serves as a powerful lesson for Muslims. St. Valentine became a Saint trying to resist free sex. Even though there was an attempt to Christianise it, today St. Valentine’s day is gone back to its roots. No one even knows that the Church even tried to ban the St. Valentine’s Day. Rather, most people think of romance, cupid and his arrow, which are vestiges of pagan Rome.
Pagan Origins of Valentine’s Day
The first information about this day is found in pre-Christian Rome, when pagans would celebrate the “Feast of the Wolf” on February 15, also known as the Feast of Lupercalius in honour of Februata Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, the Roman god of nature.
On this day, young women would place their names in an urn, from which boys would randomly draw to discover their sexual companion for the day, the year, and sometimes the rest of their lives. These partners exchanged gifts as a sign of affection, and often married.
The Christian Influence
When Christianity came onto the scene in Rome, it wanted to replace this feast with something more in line with its ethics and morality. A number of Christians decided to use February 14 for this purpose. This was when the Italian Bishop Valentine was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for conducting secret marriages of military men in the year 270.
Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young, single men, who made up his military. Valentine defied Claudius and performed marriages for young couples in secret. When his actions were revealed, Claudius put him to death. Another version of the story says that Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
Valentine was arrested and sent to the prefect of Rome for this. He found that his attempts to make Valentine renounce his faith were useless, and so recommended he be beaten with clubs, and later beheaded. This took place on February 14, 270.
According to the Catholic encyclopaedia, there are at least three different Saint Valentines, all of whom are Christian martyrs on February 14. One of them is described as a priest from Rome (as mentioned above), another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and the third from Africa.
It was in the year 496 that Pope Gelasius officially changed the February 15 Lupercalia festival to the February 14 St. Valentine’s Day to give a Christian meaning to a pagan festival. The holiday become popular in the United States in the 1800s during the Civil War.
As well, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery for young women that would take place during the pagan festival. Instead of the names of young women, the box would have the names of saints. Men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the purpose of this was to copy the ways of the saint they had selected for the rest of the year.
Valentine’s Day Customs
A number of the customs connected to Valentine’s Day originate in the belief in England and France during the middle Ages, that on February 14, birds began to pair.
14th and 15th century French and English literatures make indirect references to the practice. Those who chose each other as husband and wife on Valentine’s Day, apparently called each other their Valentines.
In terms of the Valentine’s greeting, “Your Valentine”, which today you find on a number of Valentine’s Day cards, the above-mentioned Roman priest Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself.
While he was in prison awaiting execution, he apparently fell in love with a young girl who would visit him. Before he died, he allegedly wrote her a letter, signed, ‘From your Valentine,’ In terms of the virtually naked, arrow-shooting cupid character, which shoots people with its arrows to make them fall in love, this character is a vestige of Roman pagan times. Cupid was described as the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. You usually find Cupid’s picture on Valentine cards and other paraphernalia.
We should avoid anything associated with immoral pagan practices. We do not need to honour or celebrate the death of a Christian “saint”. Islam does not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic relationships before marriage. Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins.
Question: In recent times, the celebration of the Valentine’s Day has spread, particularly among female students. It is a Christian celebration, and it is (manifested) with fully red costumes, clothing and shoes, and exchange of red roses. What is the ruling on the celebration of this holiday?
Answer: Celebrating the Valentine Day is not permissible because: first, it is an innovated holiday that has no basis in the Shari’ah. Second, it calls to love and passion. Third, it calls to keeping one’s heart busy with nonsensical matters, which contradict the guidance of the righteous predecessors – may Allah be pleased with them.
So it is not permissible that anything, from the signs of that holiday, takes place on that day, whether it relates to eating, drinking, clothing, giving gifts, or other than that. It is incumbent upon the Muslim to be proud of his/her religion and that he/she does not blindly follow every crier. May Allah the Exalted protect Muslims from every trial, apparent and hidden, and that He give them protection and guidance. Ameen.
Question: Some people celebrate Yawm al-Hubb (Valentine’s Day) on February 14 (the second month of the Christian Gregorian calendar) every year by exchanging red roses as gifts. They also dress up in red clothing, and congratulate one another (on this occasion). Some sweet shops produce special sweets – red in colour – and draw hearts upon them. Some shops advertise their goods, which are specially related to this day. What is the Islamic view (concerning the following): Celebrating this day? Buying from these shops on this day? Selling – by shop-owners who are not celebrating – the things which are used as gifts, to those who are celebrating?
Answer: The clear evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah – and this is agreed upon by consensus (Ijmaa) of the early generations of the Muslim Ummah – indicates that there are only two Eids in Islam (days of celebration): Eid al-Fitr (after the fast of Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (after the standing at Arafah for pilgrimage). Every other Eid – whether it is to do with a person, group, incident or any other occasion – is an innovated Eid. It is not permissible for the Muslim people to participate in it, approve of it, make any show of happiness on its occasion, or assist in it in any way – since this will be transgressing the bounds of Allah:
“… And whoever transgresses the bounds of Allah, he has wronged his own self.” [Surah at-Talaq: 1]
If we add to this fabricated Eid the fact that it is one of the Eids of the disbelievers, it is sin upon sin. This is because it is Tashabbuh (imitation) of the disbelievers, and a type of Muwalat (loyalty) to them. And Allah has prohibited the believers from imitation of them and having loyalty for them in His Mighty Book (Qur’an). It is also confirmed from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that he said:
“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Classed Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]
Eid al-Hubb (the celebration of Valentine’s Day) comes under the category of what has been mentioned here, since it is one of the pagan Christian holidays. Hence it is not permissible for any Muslim, who believes in Allah and the Last Day, to participate in it, approve of it, or congratulate (anyone on that occasion). On the contrary, it is obligatory to abandon it and stay far away from it – in response to Allah and His Messenger, and to distance oneself from the anger of Allah and His punishment.
Additionally, it is forbidden for a Muslim to assist or help in this Valentine’s Day, or any other of the forbidden/illegal celebrations in any way whatsoever – whether by food or drink, selling or buying, production, gift-giving, correspondence, announcements, etc. All of these things are considered as co-operating in sin and transgression and disobedience of Allah and His Messenger. Allah, the Glorious and Most High, says:
“… And co-operate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not co-operate in sin and transgression. And fear Allah! Verily Allah is severe in punishment.” [Surah al-Ma’idah: 2]
Likewise, it is obligatory for every Muslim to adhere strictly to the Qur’an and Sunnah in every situation – especially in times of temptations and corruption. It is incumbent that he/she understands, be aware and be cautioned from falling into the deviations of those whom Allah is angry with and those who are astray and the immoral people who have no fear of punishment – nor hope of reward – from Allah, and who give no attention at all to Islam.
It is necessary for the Muslim to flee to Allah, the Most High, seeking His Hidayah (Guidance) and Thabat (Firmness) upon the Path. Verily, there is no Guide except Allah and no One who can grant firmness except Him.
Why do we Muslims do not celebrate Valentine’s day?
This question may be answered in several ways:
1. In Islam, the festivals are clearly defined and well established, and no additions or subtractions may be accepted. They are an essential part of our worship and there is no room for personal opinion. They have been prescribed for us by Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him). Imam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“Festivals are part of the laws, clear way and religious ceremonies of which Allah says: ‘To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way.’ [Qur’an, 5:48] , and ‘For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow.’ [Qur’an, 22:67]”
Like the Qiblah, Prayer and Fasting. So there is no difference between joining them in their festival and joining them in their other rituals. Agreeing with the whole festival is agreeing with disbelief. Agreeing with some of their minor issues is the same as agreeing with them in some of the branches of disbelief.
Festivals are the most distinctive things by which religions are told apart, so whoever celebrates their festivals is agreeing with the most distinctive rituals of disbelief. Undoubtedly, going along with them in their festivals may, in some cases, lead to disbelief. Dabbling in these things, at the very least, is a sin. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) referred to the fact that every nation has its own festivals when he said:
“Every nation has its own Eid and this is our Eid.” [Al-Bukhari]
Because Valentine’s Day goes back to Roman, and not Islamic, times, this means that it is something which belongs exclusively to the Christians, and the Muslims have no share or part in it. If every nation has its own festivals, as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Every nation has its Eid…” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] – then this means that every nation should be distinguished by its festivals.
If the Christians have a festival and the Jews have a festival, which belongs exclusively to them, then no Muslim should join in with them, just as he does not share their religion or their direction of prayer.
2. Celebrating Valentine’s Day means resembling or imitating the pagan Romans, then the Christian People of the Book in their imitation of the Romans in something that was not part of their religion (Christianity). If it is not allowed to imitate the Christians in things that really are part of their religion – but not part of our religion – then how about things which they have innovated in their religion in imitation of idolaters?
Imitating non-Muslims in general – whether they are idolaters or People of the Book – is Haram, whether that imitation is of their worship – which is the most serious form – or of their customs and behaviour. This is indicated by the Quran, Sunnah and Ijmaa’:
(i) From the Qur’an: Allah says:
“And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.” [Qur’an, 3:105]
(ii) From the Sunnah: the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Abu Dawud]
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“This Hadith at the very least indicates that it is Haram to imitate them, although the apparent meaning implies that the one who imitates them is non-Muslim, as Allah says: ‘And if any amongst you takes them friends (and helpers), then surely, he is one of them.’ [Qur’an, 5:5]”
(iii) With regard to Ijmaa’, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah narrated that there was agreement that it is Haram to imitate non-Muslims in their festivals at the time of the Prophet’s Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, and Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim narrated that there was scholarly consensus (Ijmaa) on this point.
3 – The love referred to in this festival ever since the Christians revived it is romantic love outside the framework of marriage. The result of that is the spread of fornication, adultery and immorality. Hence, the Christian clergy opposed it at some stage and abolished it, then it came back again.
Some people may wonder, and say: “You mean to deprive us of love, but in this day and age we express our feelings and emotions – what is so wrong with that?”
Firstly: It is a mistake to confuse what they call the day with what the real intentions are behind it. The love referred to on this day is romantic love, taking mistresses and lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends. It is known to be a day of promiscuity and sex for them, with no restraints or restrictions… They are not talking of pure love between a man and his wife or a woman and her husband, or at least they do not distinguish between the legitimate love in the relationship between husband and wife, and the forbidden love of mistresses and lovers. This festival for them is a means for everyone to express love.
Secondly: Expression of feelings and emotions is not a justification for the Muslim to allocate a day for celebration based on his own thoughts and ideas, and to call it a festival, or make it like a festival or Eid. So how about when it is one of the festivals of the non-Muslims?
In Islam, a husband loves his wife throughout the year, and he expresses that love towards her with gifts, in verse and in prose, in letters and in other ways, throughout the years – not just on one day of the year.
Thirdly: There is no religion which encourages its followers to love and care for one another more than Islam does. This applies at all times and in all circumstances, not just on one particular day. Indeed, Islam encourages us to express our emotions and love at all times, as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him.” [Abu Dawud]
And He (Peace be upon him ) said:
“By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you truly believe, and you will not truly believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something that, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread Salam amongst yourselves.” [Muslim]
Fourthly: Love in Islam is more general and more comprehensive; it is not restricted only to one kind of love, that between a man and a woman. There are many more kinds of love. There is the love of Allah, love of His Messenger (Peace be upon him) and his Companions, love for good and righteous people, love and support for the religion, love of martyrdom for the Sake of Allah, etc. There are many kinds of love. It is a dangerous mistake to restrict this broad meaning to this one kind of love.
Fifthly: What these people think, that love before marriage is a good thing, is wrong, as has been proven in studies and by real-life experience.
So, how can we believe that Valentine’s Day is of any benefit to Muslims? The truth is that it is a call for more permissiveness, promiscuity and immorality, and the forming of forbidden relationships.
The husband who sincerely loves his wife does not need this holiday to remind him of his love. He expresses his love for his wife at all times and on all occasions.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.